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A Closer Look at Marketing Costs

The money your company spends on marketing can pay for a variety of things. Here are some examples:

  • BROCHURES show off your products or describe your services in the most enticing terms. You probably want them to look impressive so the people who see them think the best of your company. But impressive brochures can cost lots of money-for layout and design, writing, photography, and printing (especially if done in full color). But what do you do if you add or discontinue a product or service featured in your brochure? Time to get the brochure production team back together!

  • CATALOGS, like brochures, enable you to show off your products. But they're usually bigger and can be costlier to produce, primarily because they include detailed information about each item. They may also include pricing. While it's great to have a big fat catalog filled with product information and pricing, what happens when the prices change? Throw out the old catalogs and print up some new ones!

  • DIRECT MAIL is possibly the most costly marketing method. It requires not only printed materials, but a mailing list, prepared labels, and postage. The more information you send out, the more it costs to send. And you're never quite sure if the people who get those direct mail pieces will look at them.

  • PRINT ADS spread the word about your products or services in a relatively cost-effective way. By placing ads in the newspapers or magazines your market is most likely to read, you can reach potential customers. But the bigger, flashier, and more colorful the ad, the more it will cost. And what if your product or service can appeal to anyone? Which publication do you advertise in? All of them?

  • PENS, MUGS, TEE SHIRTS, AND OTHER HANDOUTS are a great way to put your organization's name in front of potential customers or clients. They're also a great way to reward current customers or clients. But they cost money and need to be designed so you get your money's worth.

I'm sure you can think of other examples of marketing techniques that cost money. If you're really smart and have a good imagination, you may even think of a few that are free (or almost free).

Example: Chrome Caballeros Tours

Dave Waddell's motorcycle tour business, Chrome Caballeros Tours, takes all the trouble out of motorcycle camping by carrying all the gear and doing all the work for you. His clients simply ride at their own pace through some of the best scenery the Southwest has to offer and let Dave and his team take care of the rest.

Dave described all this in a professionally produced brochure. But he realized that his growing business would be offering different tours on different dates and at different prices every year. A schedule that was up-to-date today would be out-of-date in a month. So he decided to keep schedule details out of his brochure and provide them on the Web (see Figure 2).

Figure 2

The Chrome Caballeros Tours Web site includes a full-color online brochure with up-to-date schedule and pricing information.

The Web site for Dave Waddell's motorcycle business is referenced on all his printed literature- business cards, brochures, letterhead, print ads, and even the big banner he hangs from his support vehicle in camp. When someone calls asking for information, he points them to the Web site before offering to mail out a brochure. In many cases, that's all the caller needs. Dave saves on postage and printing and potential clients get the information they want within minutes. In addition, his Web site can provide up-to-date information about upcoming tours, availability, and pricing.

Example: Janet LeRoy, Original Artwork on Feathers

Janet LeRoy is an artist who paints wildlife, Native Americans, and other western themes on turkey feathers. Her work, which is finely detailed and embellished with semi-precious stones and rare bird feathers, has to be seen to be fully appreciated.

Janet sells both original pieces and limited edition prints. The prints are available at wholesale prices to galleries, gift shops, and other retailers. Her selection of prints is constantly changing as old prints sell out and new ones are produced.

Like most artists, Janet Leroy is on a tight budget. Printing and mailing out a full-color brochure or catalog every month or so is simply too costly. So Janet turned to the Web to show off her hand-painted turkey feathers. Her online gallery of available prints shows thumbnail photographs of each piece (see Figure 3). A site visitor can click a thumbnail to view a larger image. Pricing and contact information is right on the Gallery page, making it easy for customers to place orders.

Figure 3

Janet LeRoy's Web site includes an online gallery of her available work. These color illustrations can change as often as she needs them to.

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